Meet the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, the new performance variant of the Colorado pick-up that packs a supercar suspension system and, would you believe it, a Duramax diesel engine.
The Colorado ZR2 combines nimbleness and maneuverability with a host of new off-road features and technology making it the most capable pickup in its segment. Compared to the standard Colorado, the ZR2 has a much wider track and a lifted suspension. Functional rockers have also been added for better performance over rocks and other obstacles while the bumpers have been modified for better off-road clearance.
The Colorado features both front and rear electronic locking differentials as well as the first off-road application of Multimatic Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSV) damper technology.
Multimatic Inc., based in Markham, Ontario, is a renowned maker of high-performance Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSV) dampers as used in championship-winning motorsport vehicles, including recent Formula One winners. The first volume production vehicle fitted with DSSV dampers was the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.
The Chevy engineering team partnered with Multimatic to achieve an unprecedented balance of both on- and off-road performance.
Compared to deflected-disk valving common on most dampers, the ZR2 employs spool valves that offer increased precision and manufacturing repeatability along with enhanced ride and handling performance both on- and off-road.
The Colorado ZR2’s DSSV dampers are position-sensitive. Their aluminum bodies each house two spool valves providing both compression and rebound damping optimized for everyday driving. During extreme off-road use, a third, piston-mounted spool valve delivers additional, uniquely tuned, compression damping. The front dampers also employ a separate rebound valve, which comes into play when the suspension approaches full extension.
Visually, the production version of the Colorado ZR2 closely resembles the concept shown at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. Consumer response to that concept was so overwhelming, the team knew they needed to carry as much of the original design into production as possible.
Compared to a Colorado Z71, the ZR2 has a more aggressive side profile, with the suspension lifted two inches for greater ground clearance. The steel-tube, functional rocker protectors will be standard equipment on the ZR2, and are strong enough to protect the body side while dragging the truck against a rock face.
The ZR2 also features 17 x 8 inch aluminum wheels, in a pattern exclusive to the ZR2, wrapped in 31-inch Goodyear Duratrac off-road tires for exceptional traction.
The front and rear track has been widened by 3.5 inches (89 millimeters), with new cast-iron control arms for greater durability in off-road situations. As a result, the ZR2 offers greater wheel travel and stability while traversing steep grades.
The front bumper of the ZR2 has tapered ends, to increase the tire clearance when approaching obstacles. The bumper also integrates a thick, aluminum skid plate protecting the radiator and engine oil pan, while the transfer case is protected by an additional shield. Above the bumper, the ZR2 features a more aggressive grille and hood – with black insert – to complement the other exterior changes. A bed-mounted spare tire carrier, seen on reveal vehicles at the Los Angeles Auto Show, will be available as an accessory.
The ZR2 also features the most sophisticated four-wheel drive system in the segment. With class-exclusive, electronic-locking differentials front and rear and Chevrolet’s AutoTrac transfer case, the ZR2 offers nine drive configurations:
- 2WD, locked rear differential
- Auto 4WD
- Auto 4WD, locked rear differential
- 4WD Hi, locked transfer case
- 4WD Hi, locked transfer case and locked rear differential
- 4WD Lo, locked transfer case
- 4WD Lo, locked transfer case and locked rear differential
- 4WD Lo, locked transfer case, locked front and rear differentials
The ZR2 shares its powertrains with the 2017 Colorado, and it will be the only extreme production off-road truck to offer the choice of gas or diesel engines.
The all-new 3.6L V-6, mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, yields 308 horsepower and 373 Nm of torque, while the Duramax diesel engine produces 181 horsepower and 500 Nm of torque and will provide excellent range to overland drivers.
For the development of the Colorado ZR2, Chevrolet developed new off-road test areas at General Motors’ Yuma, Arizona Proving Ground.
The Yuma Proving Ground is located on 971 hectares of land in southeastern Arizona. Opened in 2009, Yuma features a range of tracks, laboratories and courses.
The new off-road facility features a multitude of off-road simulations, including high-speed desert sand trails; low-speed, loose river rock crossings; and steep, technical hill climbs and descents.
Yuma Proving Ground’s new off-road course allowed the team to test multiple iterations of components on the ZR2 is a single day. These components were then tested a real-world facilities like Moab, Johnson Valley, and Rubicon to ensure the ZR2 is trail-ready right from the factory.